TORONTO — As Canada and the US settled for a scoreless draw, both sides have to look ahead and prepare for their upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches. Let’s see what knowledge Canada walked away with from Sunday’s game.
1. Julian de Guzman is a better player in a Canadian jersey. There is a theory that de Guzman plays at the level of the players around him. While his performances with Toronto FC have lacked consistency, the argument is that he has better teammates around him whenever he plays for his country. He didn’t have a great game in Cyprus against Armenia in February, but he had just flown halfway around the world for essentially one practice and one game.
On Sunday against the Americans, JDG helped frustrate the American midfield and smartly joined in on the attack when available.
2. Atiba Hutchinson should start on the bench against Cuba. Hutchinson is probably the most influential figure in Canada’s midfield, when he’s healthy. He admitted postgame that the knee which has caused him to miss a lot of time last season is bothering him again.
After that performance by Canada’s midfield against the Americans, Stephen Hart should have confidence in those players to play against Cuba. Nik Ledgerwood did not stop running, Will Johnson was a force in the midfield and, as mentioned above, de Guzman played one of his better games.
If they play that way on Friday against Cuba, they will win. With Honduras, a much sterner test, to follow the Cuba game on June 12, Hart should keep Hutchinson in reserve again to rest for the Honduras game and use the PSV Eindhoven man as a substitute in Havana only if there isn’t the same solid performance from the midfield.
3. Canada may be at their best with four in the back. Canada have gone through a number of different players on the backline in recent months. Kevin McKenna has been out with injury and Andrew Hainault has been left out of the team, but the two partnered in central defense to help lead what was probably Canada’s best defensive performance in a while.
Recently used as a center back for Canada, David Edgar hardly put a foot wrong for the team on Sunday. Apart from an errant back pass, Edgar was composed at right back and provided a few teasing crosses in the attack. A McKenna-Hainault center back pairing provided a perfect mix of youth and experience. The one change that could be made is at left back where, when healthy, Marcel de Jong should get the nod, but he’s been more injured than healthy lately.
On Sunday, Ante Jazic was just about flawless in that position. At 36 years old, Jazic was a surprise inclusion in World Cup qualifiers last year, but with performances like the one on Sunday, there’s really no worry about his age catching up to him, at least not right now.